shinjuku

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Now that the snow has fallen, it’s crazy cold outside and it’s official that the cherry blossoms will not peak this year, it made me think about our trip to Japan around this time last year. Unfortunately while we were on our trip, I missed the peak bloom of blossoms in DC. Double unfortunate that we also missed the peak in Tokyo. We did see some cherry blossoms, but if we really wanted to see it, we should of stayed for a week longer. Oh well. I still loved our visit and was still able to see some beautiful flowers including this one. Do any of you guys know what this one is called? I have no clue and would not even know where to beginning to find out.

I took it in Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. The perfect place to go if you want to catch any kind of blooms. When you walk through the park, you almost forget you are in a major city. You don’t hear any honking horns or busy streets. You’re in your own little world, walking down paths of diverse garden areas and scenic views. If I had the opportunity, I would of loved to spend sunrise walking around by myself like I do in DC. The best part is that people come here not just to walk around and enjoy the flowers, but they will bring a blanket with a picnic baskets and hangout for a couple of hours. Kinda like what they do at the tidal basin for the cherry blossoms but it’s definietly not as crowded. I feel like when you can sit down and relax like that, you’ll get the full experience of the beautiful sakuras and these unnamed flower I photographed 🙂

By the way, if you missed it, I made a Tokyo guide. Click here if you’d like to see it.

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This is going to be a 3 part series that will be going on my blog for the next 3 days. Why 3 days? Because I shot so many images this year and I love them all but I can’t choose one absolute favorite. I think I ended up with at least 30 absolute favorites. It’s like how do you choose your favorite pizza delivery place? Who knows! They’re all so great, delicious and you like them all for different reasons. That’s the same thing with this!

Part 1: Travel

So here are my 10 favorite images from travel in 2016. I am SO lucky that I was able to travel to Asia, Europe, and the Caribbean this past year. Like is this really my life?

In order of when I visited these amazing places, here are my favorite travel images of 2016. Woop Woop!
Click the image to find the original blog post and the story behind it.

electronic megastore, japan, akihabara, escalators, electronics, camera, electric town, shopping district, manga, computer goods,

The electronic Super Store in Akihabara, Tokyo, Japan. You could spend hours in this one place and I think I did. Obviously, most of my time was spent on the photography floor. Yes, that’s right. A whole floor devoted to photography!

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One of my favorite places in the city of Tokyo, Shinjuku Gyoen. I love all the variations of green in this image.

Fushimi Inari Shrine, kyoto, vermilion torii gates, shinto, japan, kimono, girls, walking, light, Senbon Torii, gate, shrine, girls

This image definietly took a lot of patience. It was that decisive moment that Henri Cartier-Bresson talks about.

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The contrast of these two bikes in Tokyo cracks me up. I can imagine these two riding down the road together having the best time.

st john, cinnamon bay, trunk bay, beach, palm tree, rocks, white sand, clear water, virgin islands, usvi, caribbean, travel, beach bum

OMG Can we please go back? St John was like heaven on earth.

st thomas, virgin islands, margaritaville, jimmy buffet, sunrise, morning, beach, umbrella, chairs, ocean, caribbean, usvi

This was taken at the resort we were staying at, Margaritaville. I didn’t have any margaritas but I had plenty of vodka. They should change the name to Vodkaville 🙂

st john, virgin islands, usvi, caribbean, territory, travel, beach, clear water, blue water, island, clouds, boat, visit, visit, cinnamon bay

YES to all the above

ft lauderdale, south florida, beach, seaweed, ocean, atlantic, america, florida, fl, seagulls, sunrise, walk, shore, peace, calm, water, sand

In August, Andrew and I spent a long weekend in Ft Lauderdale. It was a great end of summer get away.

london, england, parliment, sunset, thames river, united kingdom, palace of westminster, house of lords, house of commons, meeting place, sunset, central london, british polictics, royal palace, night, car trails,

Oh Snap! Don’t you love it when big buses pass you by while taking a long exposure. They always create the coolest lines with their lights.

la sagrada familia, Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, gaudi, roman catholic church, barcelona, spain, interior, architecture, holy family, Antoni Gaudí,

La Sagrada Familia: The most awe-inspiring interior I’ve ever seen. My girlfriends and I made a pact to come back to Barcelona in 10 years when to see this place when  it’s all complete.

 

So there it is. My top 10 travel images for 2016. What did you guys think? Come back to the blog for the next two days for more of my favorites.

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I was fortunate enough to have spent 7 full days in Tokyo. To some it may seem like a lot, but each day was a new adventure to me. There’s so much to do in this city. It can be a little overwhelming to figure out what’s what, so I thought it’d be helpful to create a guide for those who have never been and highlight some of my favorite things to do in this huge city.

So here’s a guide to maximize your 3 days in Tokyo.

Day 1: Shinjuku

You could spend a whole day in just this ward. Tons of shopping, eating and sight seeing all in one place. This is the best place to just wonder without a map and enjoy the sights and sounds of this great neighborhood. Here are my favorites…

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
The best time to visit this garden is definietly cherry blossom season but it’s super hard to plan for. But even if it’s not spring, this garden is BEAUTIFUL all on it’s on. Everything is so well manicured and clean. It’s a great to grab a picnic basket, your best friend and spend a lovely afternoon in the garden.

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just a couple of girlfriends chit chatting

Food
Especially if you’re jet lagged, this Ichiran is the perfect ramen spot because its open 24 hours. You even sit in these little divided tables (think DMV type testing seats). Once you’ve been served, they’ll close the curtain in front of you so you have total privacy and can enjoy the full flavor of your noodle soup.

Din Tai Feng for some serious yums. A taiwanese restaurant transplanted in Tokyo known for their soup dumplings. Theres usually a wait, but its totally worth it. Located on one of the top floors of Takashimaya Times Square, which is cool all on it’s own. Each floor is dedicated to a certain department (women, men, homeware, kimonos, etc.) so work your way though times square and then have Din Tai Feng as a reward.

din tai fung, shinjuku, Takashimaya Times Square, soup dumplings, taiwan, buns, green tea, food, eat, restaurant

For dinner or some evening entertainment, you gotta check out the Robot Restaurant.  It’s kind of hard to describe. Imagine a super trippy drug experience summarized in song, dance, color and lights.

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Day 2: Tokyo Skytree, Akihabara, Night Photography Tour

Located in Sumida, it’s a bit of a hike to make it to Tokyo Skytree but it brings an interesting perspective to Tokyo that makes it worth it. I’d try to go early as possible to avoid lines or evening time to see the city light up.

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Taken in the middle of the day, Tokyo skytree created a cool shadow over the city.

On your way back to the hotel, stop by the Akihabara ward. Known for all things electronic, anime and manga, it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen. The heart of the city has tall buildings all covered by anime and manga posters. Pretty cool to see in a city. My favorite part was the electronic store, Yodabashi. For example, the first floor was everything cell phone related, the second floor was all computers, etc, etc, etc. If you’re like me, you’ll want to head to the fifth floor for the camera equipment. It’s like photo heaven.

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This is just the escalators to get in between the floors. Yea, it’s pretty awesome.

Our absolute favorite dessert in Tokyo were these mini cheese tarts from Pablo. They’re sooooo good and the ones from Akihabara were baked fresh on the premises so they’re warm when we ate them. They came in three different flavors and in order of my favorite to least is cheese, green tea, chocolate.  I can’t emphasize enough how good they were. I wish I had one now.

Pablo, mini cheese tart, dessert, food, japan, tokyo, pablo,

And if you’re not too tired, check out EYExplore Tokyo photo tours. I highly, highly recommend the veritgo tour but they also offer some cool night time tours in Shinjuku and Shibuya. This is a totally unique experience and its super fun to bring home images you’d be proud of at the end of your whole Tokyo experience.

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One of the cool views you could see on the Vertigo Tour Photo Tour from EYExplore Tokyo

Day 3: Harajuku and Shibuya

Before leaving on the trip, I knew I wanted to go to Harajuku. I heard so much about the girls, fashion and street style that it seemed like a super hip place. It definietly did not disappoint. A great place to go to pick up some unique gifts for friends and family but also people watch.

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It can get pretty crowded, so be prepared for that.

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Last but not least, Shibuya is a place that should not be missed. Home to the busiest crosswalk ever, it’s a sight to see! You’ll be amazed. This short video clip was taken at 11p at night. Can you imagine what it’s like during rush hour? My head still can’t wrap around how many people there are in this tiny space.


Video taken from the the walkway between the Keio Station (Inokashira Line).

But Shibuya has plenty of restaurants and stores to walk around and see. Our favorite place to eat was Joto Curry. It was so good we ate there twice. My favorite part was watching the food being prepared. My mouth is watering just thinking about it again.

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So there it is! 3 days in Tokyo! My favorite things to do and eat. Hope you enjoyed. If you feel like I missed something, please let me know in the comments. Or if you’ve been to any of these places, let me know too so we can reminisce on how fun everything is 🙂

Safe travels!!

* All food images taken with my iphone 6.

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Visiting Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden on a rainy day isn’t too bad if you have an umbrella. There are barely any people and its like you have the whole place to yourself. It’s a great time to throw the umbrella and run around the place with your hands in the air like Phoebe from Friends.